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Historical Handguns Semi Auto

Wild West Americana: Buffalo Bill’s Savage Model 1907

by S.P. Fjestad   |  October 9th, 2013 7
Savage-Model-1907_001

So what happens to the value of a lightly engraved Model 1907 Savage in 90-percent original condition and add an authenticated Buffalo Bill Cody provenance to its history? See the end of this article for the answer.

Normally a Model 1907 Savage pistol doesn’t command a lot of collector interest, unless it was one of the approximately 400 manufactured in .45 ACP caliber for the 1907-1911 U.S. Military Trials. This pistol is a great example of what happens when a documented famous provenance can be linked up with a relatively ordinary firearm.

Savage-Model-1907_002

As you can see, the backstrap of this historic Savage pistol indicates it was manufactured by special order and presented to “COL. W.F. CODY”. Historical research further authenticates this famous provenance.

This particular Savage special order pistol was accepted from the factory on June 12, 1911, and shipped on Aug. 22 of the same year to Col. W. F. Cody. It is chambered for .32 ACP, has an all-blue finish—except case colored trigger—a 3 ¾-inch barrel with fixed sights, and smooth pearl grips with medallions that include the Savage Arms Co. logo in the center. The frame and slide are lightly engraved with foliate arabesque patterns, with matching engraving on the heel of the backstrap. The best part about the backstrap, however, is the engraved name, which is “Col. W.F. Cody.”

Becoming more and more important on a potentially significant gun like this is the provenance and research to back up its famous history. This gun has been featured on Page 308 of R.L. Wilson’s book, The Peacemakers. Mr. Wilson also goes on to state that the majority of known Buffalo Bill guns are in museums, and therefore unavailable to collectors. Additionally, a 1979 letter from Savage Historian Roe S. Clark states that the factory hand-written ledger book indicates this pistol was marked “SPEC. GRADE”, in addition to being shipped to Col. W. F. Cody.

Also included in this gun’s provenance is a bill of sale dated April 29, 1979, indicating this pistol, identified by Serial No. 33177, was sold from a Greg Curtis to Gene Schulze for the sum of $150. It has also been featured in the July 1975 issue of Arms Gazette.

Savage-Model-1907_003

Regardless of how poorly you did in American History when in high school, this iconic image of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody should at least be identifiable. Any object that he owned in his lifetime (and can be proven) is worth a lot of money, as most of his artifacts are now safely sequestered in major museums. At right is a copy from the hand-written Savage ledger book indicating this pistol was shipped on Aug. 22, 1911, directly to Col. W.F. Cody. Having this type of sterling provenance is absolutely critical in establishing the authenticity (and value) of this famous handgun.

All of this historical provenance makes this gun one of the most historically significant Savage pistols ever manufactured. After receiving this pistol, Buffalo Bill Cody wrote a resounding endorsement for Savage pistols, which was probably the intent of the presentation all along. Buffalo Bill Cody was the first real true showman in the United States, and his Wild West shows won universal acclaim both domestically and internationally. Undoubtedly, he was the most recognized and influential American during his day.

So what’s this gun worth? That’s a good question, and a large auction is certainly the best way of finding out what the high end of this pistol’s potential value could be. With a condition factor of approximately 90 percent, a standard, non-engraved Model 1907 Savage in .32 ACP is worth approximately $200. At the recent James D. Julia auction, this pistol hammered for a very impressive $66,125, including the 15-percent auction premium! The estimate range was $50,000-$100,000. Was it worth it? For the winning bidder, obviously so. However, maybe the under bidder was thankful he didn’t get the gun the day after the auction. Regardless of its value, this Savage pistol will always be remembered as an important and significant artifact of early 20th century Americana.

Images and some information courtesy of James D. Julia, Inc.

  • osufliboy

    I need a mag for a 1907 because I have a pistol without one. Anybody know where to get one from, they are very hard to find!!

    • Name

      http://www.egunparts.com used to have them

    • Bradley Foster

      ammoclips.com has them from time to time. They are reproductions, but well-made and work fine. Originals can occasionally be found on gunbroker.com, but go for $75 and up.

  • PACOSBILL

    According to Sterns book,Bill pick up 5 guns on August 22,1911.That was the day my father was born.I believe he named the friends of Bill who were to get them.

  • Craigskeet

    The Savage .32 pistol was an amazing achievement in the early 20th century. But this pistol, in .45, was absolutely no match for the .45 Browning, in ANY WAY. It was complex to manufacture, it had lots of little parts, field take-down was an odd 90 degree twist of the bolt group containing a VERY stiff hammer. Browning had NO effective competition in 1911; selection by the US Army was a formality, and I’m sure everyone involved knew it.

  • Joe Lovestick

    Well I seen the gun it not what was in the World war 2. It first gun you can use the wild west.

    • Thelonious Mahler Crate

      :O

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